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Distributor seized

4500 Views 9 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  bryanmc57
2000 Xterra 3.3 w/ 172k miles, timing belt changed at 124k (when I bought it). Wife calls and said truck died going down the road. Get there, cranks but will not start. Tow it to the house, pop the hood and start having a look. Put my hand on the dist cap and the whole distributor moves. I look down and see the hold down bolt is gone and part of the plate it screws in to is missing. Remove the cap, pull the connectors and pull the distributor, shaft is seized solid. Notice some bits of metal of the hole, but the gear on the dist looks ok. Hard to believe it ate the gear on the cam instead of the distributor or shearing the roll pin that holds the gear but that appears to be what happened when it seized.

Couple questions. First obviously, has anyone ever had this happen before? Is the distributor drive gear replaceable without replacing the whole cam (which will be a major pita). Is there enough room to slide the cam out without pulling the head. Is it likely that the motor jumped the timing belt and bent some valves when the distributor stopped the cam?

Thanks in advance.
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Thanks for the reply. The metal I found in the bottom of the hole looks like parts of gear teeth but I could be wrong. I'm the only one who has wrenched on this (since I bought it 6 years ago). I don't remember ever loosening the dist bolt for any reason so it's possible. I have a friend coming over in a bit so one of us can bump the starter and the other can inspect the gear. There were none of the usual symptoms of a bearing going bad. I certainly hope you're right.
Well... It's definitely the cam gear... I'm sure I'd notice chunks this big missing from the dist gear. Now to decide what to do.


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I'm deciding whether I want to tear it down or put in a used motor. It's possible that there's bent valves on both sides depending on how long the cam was stopped, and it doesn't look like I can sneak the cam out with the head on the block. Add on to that putting a bunch of money into a 175k bottom end when for $1500 I can get a lower mileage complete motor that will need the same wear items (t-belt and components, water pump, stat, plugs etc) as I would put into the existing motor. What's your opinion?
Just an update

Found a newly wrecked 2000 Xterra in a local yard with 113k miles on it. Motor should be here today so I can inspect it and decide if I'll keep it or not. Hopefully the distributor comes with it.

TBass, I might take you up on your offer to try to rebuild the old one, but I'm guessing the bearing is welded to the shaft..
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